What if the chemicals and fertilizers you use to take care of your lawn are increasing your risk of cancer? Read the article below about how you can protect yourself from the risk of cancer when taking care of your lawns.
If you’re worried that the fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals used in lawn and garden care could cause cancer, you can breathe at least a partial sigh of relief. Typical exposure to these materials isn’t enough to significantly increase your cancer risk, experts say. “By using some basic precautions the average person has little to worry about,” says Lewis E. Foxhall, M.D., vice president of Health Policy at MD Anderson.
Some studies have linked pesticides, especially those containing arsenic, to increased cancer risk. This is more of a concern for agricultural workers, who have chronic exposure. But the average person is generally not exposed enough to see an impact, says Foxhall.
Another potential source of concern is herbicides. These products may contain the chemicals glyphosate or 2,4-D. The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently linked certain herbicides with increased cancer risk, but evidence is limited.
Fertilizers often contain nitrates that may find their way into drinking water. This is more common in agricultural areas and for those who use water from wells. But research is unclear on a link with cancer. “It’s a good idea to avoid or limit use of these chemicals if you can. If necessary, use them with caution. It’s quite reasonable to be concerned about possible cancer risks like these, and we should do what we can to reduce them,” Foxhall says. “Let’s not forget the much more common cancer risks and proven ways to reduce them.”
Tips to protect yourself
- If you’re still concerned about exposure to chemicals, follow these tips to help keep you and your family safe and healthy.
- Avoid exposure by limiting use. If you are using chemicals and pesticides, wear gloves and masks.
- Pregnant women and children in particular should avoid exposure.
- Limit the time you spend in the yard immediately after applying lawn care treatments.
- Always check the label for ingredients and follow the directions on the package.
If possible, leave it to a professional.